Is this Google’s annus horriblis?

Development of Google Wave comes to an end. But Why? Were we not ready for it, or was the collaboration tool just too complicated to use?

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It would be foolish to suggest that Google is in trouble, but there have been a few ventures that have not worked out in the way that the search behemoth would have hoped and, just as Apple has experienced with the Iphone 4 launch, it is clear that you cannot assume success in an era where users vote with their feet (or mice?).

We should point out that the title of this post does not refer in any way to a nasty posterior protruding from the big G, but a reference to the queen’s legendary speech of 1992 where she commented on how things hadn’t really gone well thanks to two royal marriage break ups, one divorce and the Windsor Castle fire.

Why this post now?

It is actually a response to the announcement  that development is not going to continue on Google Wave, a real-time collaboration tool that combined email, instant messaging, social networking and wikis.

In many ways, we are not that surprised to see its early death as it is arguably way ahead of its time, or (more likely) it was a solution for a problem that just doesn’t really exist. Despite some initial fanfare, it just wasn’t welcomed with open arms and it was quite a confusing product to use and as Senior VP of Operations Urs Hölzle stated, “Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked”.

Another not inconsiderable failure has to be Google’s launch of the Nexus One phone. We have had a couple of the phones here in the office and they are great (unlike the actual buying process), so it isn’t a hardware issue and the Android platform is growing very well, but the fact that Google has given up on it so quickly (they are still selling the phone but only to developers) after such anticipation and talk of a game changing approach to mobile telephony just shows that Google is not always blessed with the success that it has enjoyed with its search engine.

We wouldn’t want Google to stop developing new applications or looking at new ventures as there are some superb things coming out of the Googleplex but is it possible that this is the year when some cracks are finally beginning to show?

We don’t really believe that the Bing / Yahoo! marriage is going to have much effect and that Google is safe when it comes to search but they should be careful not to tarnish their overall brand reputation by dabbling, and failing, at highly publicised ventures.

Probably not an annus horriblis but we suspect that some Google employees may have taken a bit of a butt kicking over the failures?


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